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Current Urban Myths and Legends - L to Z

Internet hoaxes, email rumors and urban legends

Hoax = False, deliberately deceptive information
UL = Urban Legend a popularly believed narrative, typically false
Rumor = Anecdotal claims may be true, false, or in between
Junk = Flotsam and jetsam of the Net

Larry Ellison's Yale Commencement Address [Satire]
Did Oracle's CEO, Larry Ellison, really call the Yale Class of 2000 a pack of losers?

The 'Last Photo' from atop the World Trade Center [Hoax]
A wayward jetliner is clearly visible in the background of this purported September 11, 2001 tourist snapshot.

Law Firm Memo on Replacing Murdered Secretary [Hoax]
Callous memo stipulating schedule changes after an employee's murder turns out to be a prank.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel [Hoax/Joke]
From the "odd things inserted into orifices" file.

Long Distance Toll Charge for Internet Access [Rumor]
A "new" old rumor the U.S. government is going to make us pay long distance rates for dial-up access.

Lou Reed Is Dead [Hoax]
Not really, but this email hoax fooled several radio stations into reporting Reed's "death" as hard news.

LSD & Strychnine on Pay Phone Buttons [Rumor]
More pay phone hysteria, courtesy of the Internet.

MADD Petition [Junk]
You are invited to help solve the problem of teenage drunken driving by reading a sappy poem and "signing" an email petition to be sent off to any number of destinations.

Male Pregnancy Website [Hoax]
Wherein it is claimed that Taiwanese-born Mingwei Lee is the first human male to be artificially impregnated and will soon give birth to a child.

Mall Abduction Scams on 'Inside Edition' [Rumor]
This "warning to women" claims that elaborate scams are being used by abductors to lure female shoppers out of malls and into waiting vans.

ManBeef.com - 'Human Meat' for Sale [Hoax]
Calling all cannibals! Here's an e-commerce site just for you!

Marines Intentionally Dishonored Bill Clinton [Rumor]
Is the president's Marine helicopter crew treating G.W. Bush with more respect than it treated Bill Clinton?

McDonald's Donations to Palestinians Injured in Uprising [Rumor]
A good example of what happens when a grain of truth is fed into the rumor mill in the midst of political discord.

Mel Gibson - The Man Without a Face [Hoax]
Film about a disfigured teacher was allegedly based on Mel Gibson's own life.

Michael Novenche Prayer Request
A sincere and authentic request for prayers for an ill 2-year-old boy, in circulation since April 2000.

Microwaved Water Explodes in Man's Face [Rumor]
Email warns of a little-known hazard of using microwave ovens.

Mike Hutchinson, Missionary in Peril [Rumor]
Email rumor that a Christian missionary in Africa is in danger of being lynched is false.

Mistaken Rapture [Joke]
Arkansas woman mistakes the driver of a pickup truck for Jesus and dies while trying to ascend to heaven through the sun roof of her car.

M&M's for the Millennium [Hoax]
Just for forwarding a chain letter?  I think not.

Monica Lewinsky Quote [Hoax]
Here's what the former White House intern supposedly said on Larry King Live... and evidence that she didn't.

MSN Messenger Petition [Hoax]
Is MSN planning to start charging for instant messages?  Can you stop them by circulating this chain letter?  No and no.

NASA Conducted 'Sex Experiments' in Space [UL/Hoax]
So says a brand new book based on a bogus text floating around the Net since 1995.

Neiman Marcus (Mrs. Fields) Cookie Recipe [UL]
Posh department store charges $250 for a cookie recipe; victim gets even by sharing it with the world. All the ingredients of a legend!

The Newell Company 'Email Tracker' Giveaway [Hoax]
More money for nothing!

Nigerian Business Offer [Scam]
Beware of messages from Nigerians offering you a million dollars or more for agreeing to be their "business partner."

Nike: 'Sweatshop' Not Allowed on Personalized Shoes [Rumor]
Nike has confirmed that this email exchange between the company and a customer with an agenda really occurred.

'No Fear' Bumper Stickers Are Racist [Rumor]
Email rumor charges that the stickers promote David Duke's National Organization for European American Rights.

Nostradamus Predicted Outcome of U.S. Election [Hoax]
Republicans balk; Democrats wonder how Nostradamus could have been so spookily accurate 450 years ago.

Nostradamus Predicted Terrorist Attack on World Trade Center [Hoax]
Believe it or not, Nostradamus was able to compose this prophetic verse a century after his own death!

NUD - 'No Urban Dictate' [Rumor]
From David Spalding's 'Hoax du Jour' Do some corporations apply racist criteria when deciding where to advertise?

Office Worker Dead 5 Days Before Coworkers Realize [UL]
The strange story of George Turklebaum, proofreader.

Old Navy Gift Cards Giveaway [Hoax]
Latest version of the same tired prank.

Outback Steakhouse Chain Letter [Hoax]
Further adventures in "email tracking"

Ovarian Cancer and CA-125 Screening [Rumor]
Rumor makes misleading claims about "primary peritoneal cancer" and the value of the CA-125 tumor marker as a screen.

Paget's Disease of the Nipple
The information in this forwarded email warning of a rare but real form of breast cancer is mostly accurate.

PBS / NPR / NEA Petition [Junk]
"The Case of the Pointless Petition" a cautionary tale.

Pensacola Shark Attack - The Untold Story [Rumor]
A cynical, unsubstantiated account of events surrounding the July 6 shark attack on 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast of Pensacola, Florida.

Penus Van Lesbian [Joke]
Heartwarming story of a talented young man who overcame a tragic christening to become a rich and famous television star.

Perfume Sniffing (Knock-Out Perfume) Scam [UL]
It seems bands of thieves in major cities around the world are having spectacular success getting women to sniff ether-tainted perfume samples.

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) Health Warnings [Rumor]
TRUE: The FDA has issued a health alert about the dangers of PPA, an ingredient commonly found in cold remedies and appetite suppressants.

'Picnic' Origin [Hoax]
Email contends that the origin of the word "picnic" is connected with lynchings of blacks by white people in America.

Prehistoric Barbie [Joke]
Unbelievable archaeological discovery!

Procter & Gamble is Run by Satanists! [UL]
An oldie hits the charts again due to P&G's recent lawsuits against Amway for allegedly spreading false rumors.

'Progesterex' - New Date Rape Drug [Hoax]
According to this false email alert, there's a new date rape drug that permanently sterilizes female victims.

Purse Snatchings Result in Near-Decapitation [Hoax]
This email tells us that female victims are suffering broken necks, near-decapitation and even death in the course of purse snatching crimes.

Rachel Arlington Chain Letter [Hoax]
Your chance to save another "dying child" who doesn't exist.

Racial Indicators in Social Security Numbers [Rumor]
Did the government secretly "color-code" your SSN? Plus, alleged racism in Microsoft software.

Rain Forest Petition [Junk]
This petition to oppose a deforestation measure before Brazilian Congress is outdated and useless.

Rat Droppings/Urine Cause Hawaiian Man's Death [Rumor]
A plausible scenario, but did this incident really happen?

Rat Urine on Soda Pop Cans Is Lethal [Rumor]
Three variations of a cautionary tale making the email rounds since 1998.

The Revocation of Independence [Joke]
One of the funnier bits of Net satire poking fun at the interminable U.S. presidential election of 2000.

Rick Connor Chain Letter [Hoax]
"David Lawitts" (or "Tamara Martin") by any other name.

Robby the Military Dog (Petition) [Junk]
A sincere but misinformed effort to save a Marine Corps attack and detector dog from euthanization.

Robby and the Piano Teacher [Hoax]
A "musically challenged" piano student overcomes his lack of talent to play a brilliant recital in hopes that his recently deceased mother, born deaf, will "hear."  But wait till you see the punchline...

Roll Your Own Blackout
Another email-driven protest, this one advocating power conservation through a voluntary blackout on June 21, 2001.

Save the Puppies! [Hoax/Joke]
Forward this message and save a puppy's life... or make a buck, it's unclear which.

Shampoo Cancer Warning [Rumor]
This chain letter falsely claims that sodium laureth sulfate, an ingredient found in some brand-name shampoos, is carcinogenic.

'Slave Reparations' Tax Credits [Rumor/Scam]
Con artists are taking advantage of "slave reparations" rumors to bilk black senior citizens of money and personal information.

Slavemaster [Rumor]
2001 variant of a year-old rumor based partly on fact about a Net stalker/murderer who called himself "Slavemaster."

'Slow Dance' Chain Letter [Hoax]
Smarmy poetry and another opportunity to help save the life of a dying child who doesn't exist.

Snake Swallows Man! [UL]
Series of photos purports to show a full-grown man being digested by a large snake.

Snakes Kill Child in Burger King Ball Pit [UL]
Email warns of baby rattlesnakes hiding in restaurant playgrounds.

Snowball, the Giant Mutant Cat [Hoax]
Photo of an Ontario man showing off his 87-pound housecat born near a nuclear reactor site.

Spunkball Warning [Rumor]
Teenagers across America, we're told, are tossing firebombs into randomly selected vehicles.

Statue of Liberty Is a Tribute to Black Slaves [Rumor]
Internet rumor prompts new research into Lady Liberty's past.

The Story of 'Taps' [UL]
History and folklore collide in this email tale about the origin of this touching and famous bugle call.

Tamara Martin Chain Letter [Hoax]
A rip-off of the "David Lawitts" chain letter above.

Timothy Flyte Chain Letter [Hoax]
A fictional (quite literally) character is dying of the dread disease "Ostriopliosis." Forward this chain letter to save his life.

Timothy McVeigh Book Boycott [Junk]
Email urges recipients not to make a "hero" of the Oklahoma City bomber by buying a book about him.

'Toilet Spiders' Kill 5 in Chicago Airport [Hoax]
The deadly "arachnius gluteus" rears its ugly head across the U.S.

Tommy Hilfiger Made Racist Statements on Oprah [Rumor]
That's what the email rumor claims, at any rate. This outright lie dates back several years.

'Touched by an Angel' Religious Broadcasting Petition [Junk]
This petition, alleging that the FCC is under the spell of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, is just as false now as it was 25 years ago.

Toxic Sponges from P&G [Hoax]
A new email alert claims that "pot scrubbers" from P&G contain a toxic chemical.

Toxic Tampons [Rumor]
Two versions of this email alert are circulating, one more fraudulent than the other.

The Truth about the IRS [Hoax/Joke]
Hey, this one's kind of plausible!

Ultra Clorox is Dangerous to Pets & Children [Rumor]
It contains lye, says the email rumor, and therefore is more hazardous than regular Clorox.

Up in Smoke! [UL]
The man who took out fire insurance... on his rare cigars.

U.S. Government to Monitor Employee Email in April [Hoax]
It either happened already on April 2 or will continue all month long, depending on which version of the email rumor you read.

Veterans' Dividends [Hoax]
Bogus offer to U.S. veterans involving alleged dividends on insurance policies.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne Freebie [Hoax]
Forward this message and Veuve Clicquot will send you a free case of French champagne!

Victoria's Secret Giveaway [Hoax]
Forward this message and get a free gift certificate for silk undies!

'Video Clip' Chain Letter [Hoax]
The "coolest chain letter ever" claims that a funny video will appear on your screen if you forward it to 11 people.

Waterproof Sunscreen Causes Blindness in Children [Rumor]
Recycled 1998 warning alleges that children have gone blind due to exposure to waterproof sunscreens.

What It Takes..? [Hoax/Joke]
The most outrageous college application essay ever written.

The Wingdings Prophecies [Hoax]
Microsoft's "Wingdings" font contains secretly encoded predictions of the World Trade Center terrorist attack.

Yahoo Messenger Petition [Hoax]
It was only a matter of time...


All images and text Copyright J Slemmer 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
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